Is 2018 the year your eCommerce store takes off?
There has certainly been no better time.
The eCommerce sector is growing year on year. In 2017, it was projected that eCommerce sales would account for 1/10 of total retail worldwide, while forecasts suggest that global eCommerce sales will reach 4.48 trillion U.S. dollars by 2021.
Whatever the exact numbers turn out to be, growth is rapid. And with such speedy growth comes the need for change from merchants – rapid change – in order to keep up with the changes from technologies that are accelerating said growth and changing customer shopping habits.
Artificial Intelligence is everywhere, while mobile is changing and growing eCommerce in unimaginable ways.
If you want to keep up with growth in eCommerce in 2018, it’s not enough anymore that you post pretty product images and hope for the best with your minimal SEO efforts so that people find you.
Whether you’re competing with fellow stores on Shopify or you’re using Fulfilment by Amazon, now’s the time to adapt to the new trends so that you and your store don’t get left behind.
Let’s take a look at how to keep up with growth in eCommerce in 2018.
We’ve had native content and now we have native shopping for 2018.
Like native content, native shopping means that a customer doesn’t have to leave the platform they’re currently on to get what they want.
Native content has already proven to be a smash hit with consumers. In 2017, Hubspot ran an experiment in which they pitted native video content against non-native video content on Facebook.
Native video content was the clear winner, with Hubspot’s audience watching it 160x more than their native content.
It’s a matter of convenience – people no longer want to leave the platform they’re on unless they really have to. And if they’re not exactly in the mood to buy, they’re hardly going to leave Facebook to make a purchase from you. So why not give them the option to purchase in the app instead?
If you sell on Amazon, the eCommerce giant lets you run native shopping ads:
“Native shopping ads provide highly relevant and dynamic product recommendations in a stylishly designed and responsive ad unit that can be placed at the end of content or within the content to create a more compelling visitor experience and shopping opportunity.”
These ads are highly contextualized, which means they’ll only pop up on related product pages, therefore improving your chances of conversions and sales.
Facebook will also be joining in with native shopping soon, while Pinterest already have a cool Shop the Look feature that lets customers click on any part of an outfit they’re interested in, before finding learning more details and purchasing it inside all inside the app. It improves and simplifies the shopping experience.
On a platform like Facebook, the key is getting in amongst your customers’ feed with something they’ll want. Right now, people don’t generally use social media to shop, which is why it can often be tricky to convince them to leave Facebook and enter your store.
Heck, as Hubspot’s researched show, it’s hard to even get them to watch a video away from the platform they’re currently on. This is why native shopping is well worth keeping an eye on.
Keep your brand consistent
Brand positioning is so important.
The good thing? Shaping, positioning and maintaining your brand doesn’t need to cost a lot.
For Shopify stores, the the eCommerce platform has a free logo maker that lets anyone create a killer logo in minutes, for example.
For shoppers who sell on Amazon, selling off Amazon is important. Customers look for brands, and unless you have your own website, you won’t have a brand that people can recognize and trust. This makes it hard to build relationship.
Create a site for your store and work on creating a brand with values that resonate with your core audience.
Chatbots are very much the future of better customer experience.
Particularly if you’re based in, Europe or America and you sell into China, chatbots improve the customer experience because they’re available 24/7 to talk to your customers. While you and your team sleep, a chatbot keeps things running, ensuring that your brand is always ‘on.’
This is important because now that 1.3 billion of us are using Facebook Messenger to send 2 billion messages each month to businesses, customers expect to be able to connect with sellers wherever they are, on whatever device – and at whatever time.
Chatbots are able to keep your customers happy by doing the things you can’t. They’re a kind of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is able to respond to your customers quickly, and with satisfactory and detailed answers that ease their concerns and solve their problems.
If you can’t keep on top of customer service (and customer service should now be your priority), implement chatbots to do it for you.
Remember that user engagement is key. If a customer in China has a question but you’re snoozing in Germany, you could easily lose them and their potential loyalty.
Put mobile first
Website owners were told to make their sites mobile-friendly a few years back.
Then in 2016, mobile usage overtook desktop for the first time.
That was just the start of things. 10 billion mobile connected devices have been estimated to currently be in use.
Mobile purchasing is showing no signs of slowing down – if anything, it’s just getting more and more prominent.
Whether you sell B2C internationally or have a Shopify store, you need to put mobile at the forefront of your mind. It’s not just a case of having a mobile friendly website anymore.
For example, mobile payments will be simplified by facial and fingerprint recognition technology. Then there’s one-click payments, which will further encourage shoppers to abandon desktop for mobile.
And because mobile is estimated to gobble up 70% of all eCommerce traffic in 2018, there’s no reason why mobile can’t become a customers preferred payment method.
The likes of Starbucks already have a Mobile Order and Pay app, and it’s proven to be a massive hit with consumers who love the convenience and speed.
Optimize for voice search
Voice search can be one of those trends that merchants kinda hope will go away because it sounds so tricky to implement (it’s not and we’ll show you how in a moment).
It’s already been mooted that voice search might kill screen-based search marketing, and it’s no secret that voice search is getting louder and louder.
It isn’t going away, and the stats and evidence are overwhelming: Amazon’s Alexa is a top seller, Google has partnered with retail giant Walmart on voice-based searching, while 40% of millennials already use voice search to make an online purchase.
But how can you and your store adapt to voice search? This will come down to your SEO efforts.
An effective SEO strategy is what makes your store visible on Google. Now that voice search is on the rise, you need to tweak your strategy so that those 40% of millennials are finding your store and products in the search results.
The main thing to do is to target question keywords. When someone uses voice search, it’s usually to ask a question, such as “where can I find a man’s leather jacket near me?”
It’s also worth bearing in mind that voice search is very conversational. When we talk into our phones, we talk like we would if someone was in the room next to us.
All in all, keeping up with eCommerce growth means keeping up with changes to technology.
How we shop is very different to ten years ago, and in 2 or 3 years from now it could be even more radical. Implement the tips in this article and keep a close eye on trends to stay in the game.